The opportunity to test-drive two plug-in electric vehicles for an extended period of time changed my travel experience and my mindset.
I readily became accustomed to the convenience of charging my EV the same way that I'd charge my laptop, iPad and cell-phone.
It's charging when I'm asleep, eating or working--whenever I'm not driving.
Photo: Hawaiian Electric Vehicle Network
I got used to plugging in when I got home and plugging into outdoor sockets at friends' homes when I visited. I chose to dine at restaurants near a charging station.
I learned to charge my EV when it's parked and/or when I'm otherwise occupied. I did not have to interrupt my day, make a detour to a gas station or consciously wait for the tank to "fill up."
By the time I was ready to leave, the car was charged and ready to go. What a great feeling to return to a fully charged car!
EVs are considered disruptive technology, similar to cell phones and laptops. Once you get accustomed to such new technology, it's hard to go back to the old.
It's a lifestyle change.
I learned how to read the digital dashboard to estimate how far I could go and how long before I'd run out of charge.
I became sensitive to elevation, for it ate up my charge. I also became more cognizant of the way I drove and how I could improve my energy usage.
I conquered "range anxiety" by becoming aware of how far and how high the EV could go without requiring a charge. And if it did need a charge, I knew where to find the nearest charging station. (Some charging stations require certain key fobs. I make sure I had them in my glove compartment.)
I began to really enjoy the clean, silent drive and not having to check gasoline prices.
After driving a LEAF for four months and a VOLT for 2.5 weeks, I am not looking forward to returning to the world of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
Anne Ku is the director of Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance, a project of UH Maui College. For more information, visit www.mauieva.org.